The key to commanding attention in Hong Kong's crowded marketplace for retail investment funds, according to Geneva-based fund manager Pictet Asset Management, is to offer 'themed' funds built on mandates that are clear and transparent to investors. 'We are a specialist in asset management and good in emerging markets - but of course there are a lot of competitors in this space,' said Amy Cho, Pictet's regional head of business development Asia ex-Japan. 'So to build our brand we have positioned ourselves as a theme fund specialist and the key themes we are offering are built around three global trends, namely climate change, demographics, and the global security threat.' Pictet Asset Management is the institutional asset management division of the Swiss private banking group Pictet & Cie, and opened for business in Hong Kong last month. Ms Chow said concerns over climate change had led to a rapid growth in companies offering such things as clean energy alternatives and water-saving technologies. With governments under pressure to support such 'clean and green' technology, the outlook for such companies was positive. 'We can expect governments to put in place policy measures including tax incentives to support this infrastructure development, and we can also expect these companies to have a more or less assured income - as well as suppliers to these companies,' she said. But while the logic of that argument may be sound, investors may have some difficulty judging how well it translates into practice since there is no ready benchmark against which to judge a 'clean energy' fund. The Pictet Funds (LUX)-Clean Energy-P Cap fund, for instance, was launched in May last year with a mandate to 'invest worldwide in shares of companies that contribute to and profit from the world's transition to less carbon-intensive energy'. The global and sector-wide collapse of share prices at the start to the year has left few funds unscathed, and the Pictet Clean Energy fund was no exception, judging by its latest product sheet that shows returns to investors were down 13.6per cent over the three-month period to end-January, versus a 12.6per cent retreat in the MSCI World Equity Index. But it was to the longer-term that investors should be looking, Ms Cho said. 'And, in terms of long-term revenues and bargaining power, the outlook for such companies is positive and optimistic,' she said. She said another of the themes around which Pictet had built a fund was the change under way in global demographics - or more particularly the phenomenon of an ageing population, which pointed to growth in the bio-tech sector and the appeal of generic drug makers who stood to benefit from expired patent rights. The latest Pictet Funds (LUX)-Generics-P Cap fund sheet shows it was on a three-year return of 16.1 per cent as of end-January, versus a 20.7 per cent return for the MSCI World Pharmaceuticals Index; though it had outperformed the index over three months, returning minus 2.8 per cent versus a 6.8 per cent decline in the Index over this period. 'The final theme on which we have built a fund is the global security threat - and in our security fund we invest in makers of X-ray machines, for instance, also port and airport security operations, including software specialists and companies providing secure access controls.' A fund sheet for Pictet Funds (LUX)-Security-P Cap-EUR says the objective of the fund is 'to invest worldwide in shares of companies which help to secure the integrity, health and freedom of individuals, companies and governments'. As of end-January, the one-year return to investors in the fund was minus 17.4 per cent versus minus 12.7per cent for the MSCI World Index; and a minus 22.3 per cent over the three months to end-January, versus minus 14.6 per cent for the MSCI World Index.